There I was, perfectly equipped for a football day down the local watering hole; friends, betting slips and waiting for my full rack of ribs I’d ordered (with extra bee-bee-queue sauce) that promised to, for a few mouthfuls at least, ‘make me feel like I was in Texas’.
Anyway, the early game was Norwich City versus Liverpool and the expectations for the 90 minutes were this:
Therefore, when it ended with a last-minute winner for Liverpool to make it 5-4, the world of football was somewhere around here:
I wasn’t, though; I was still here:
Side note: How bloody good is a twix?! You know the drill; bite both ends, place thumb and index finger at either end of the biscuit and then remove that top layer!
Anyway, I digress.
So, after nine goals – which included a couple of dramatic late ones – I sat there, still waiting for my Texas buzz to kick in, barely fussed at what I’d just seen, whilst the rest of the pub was awash with euphoria at what they’d just witnessed:
My lack of enjoyment concerned and, I’ll be honest, upset me because I bloody love me some soccer ball.
It left me asking myself: Have I forgotten how to enjoy football? And if so, why?
Now, before you ask; no, I’m not the sort of guy who tells children Father Christmas isn’t real (sorry If I’ve just ruined that for anyone) and, no, I don’t kick puppies to pass the time.
At first I thought it was maybe because I wasn’t really giving the game my full attention being in that social environment. However, the #lads who I was engaging in some #banter with, still seemed to get a buzz from the nine-goal thriller, so why not me?
Perhaps my underwhelmed reaction from the game came from the fact that I’ve struggled with the concept of Liverpool as a serious and genuine club – rather than a parody one – for several years now(?)
That being said, as much as they’re an amusingly, deluded bunch, they’ve been involved in some of my favourite ever football games over the years, so it wasn’t that.
I sound like a right barrel of laughs in a social situation, don’t I? Tucked away in a corner, trying to work out why I’m not enjoying myself.
I am getting closer to the answer now, though; I promise.
The standard of football was shite, as it has been in the Premier League for a couple of seasons, now. I’ve seen more genuinely gripping and entertaining 2-1 wins and 0-0 draws in earlier Premier League seasons, purely because the football on display had much more about it, it had that ‘wow’ factor.
Honestly, I have.
I’m only giving the inability for the likes of Declan Rudd, Kolo Toure and Steven Naismith to excite me with their footballing talent a tiny percentage of what makes up the final answer.
The main reason stems from the fact that the fun, the purity, the beauty, the reasons to cheer and the reasons to cry have all been suffocated and lost by the economics, the numbers, the money, the boardroom bullocks that us fans shouldn’t give a flying fuck about.
We’ve been force fed football by a media driven machine that has created this ridiculous 24:7 desire for the (not so) beautiful game. The fact we hear about how much this player cost a club per goal or how much this club is reportedly being bought for or, and this is the worst, we now actually give a fuck about our club’s AGM – I got into football because I love the sport, not because I love to know about how much my club does or doesn’t have under the mattress.
I’m drained from the consistently inane discussions involving false nines, CDMs, CAMs, inverted wingers, gegenpressing football and all that pretentious waffle.
The sad realisation, for me, is that isn’t even going to stop and, the bitter truth is, it’s only going to get worse. It’s going to get even more contrived, even more dense and even more anal.
Show of hands, who smirked at ‘anal’?
We come for the same reasons our dads did and their dads did, but somewhere between leaving home and arriving at the ground/pub we are eaten up by the corporate monster that was once our sweet escape.
I want that buzz back but I don’t bloody know how to! Answers on a postcard would be greatly appreciated.